Lets kick minimalism's bottom.

There is a lot of noise in the Apple media recently about minimalism vs Apple's skeuomorphic design. I am willing to bet most people that talk about minimalism don't actually know about minimalism. That includes bloggers, members of this forum and the Google CEO.

So what is minimalism, well to put it simply (I'm sure there are people that can explain better than me), minimalism is about design that takes away the complexity and focuses the user on the artwork. Take minimalism in architecture, the Vietnam Memorial. It is a simple wall with people's names on it. But because it is so minimal, when you walk next to it, it has an effect on you. It makes you realize that thousands of people died in this event. That is why it works. Minimalism in the art world was about removing the artist's hand, to get away from the tired old themes of paintings. Minimalist artwork is about how it interacts with the viewer.

Again, Design is how it works.

There are places where minimalism can work wonderfully. Places where you want the user to focus on the content. That is why over the years computer hardware has become so much minimal. Look at your phone it is a rectangular piece of glass. That is one reason all browsers essentially look the same, because the important content is on the web page below the browser chrome. Look at Quick Time X and how it hides its chrome when the video is playing. There is minimalism for you.

Look at mail on iOS. Look at Safari. They still have textures and shadows but they are only present to provide the user visual cues. Apple already has minimalism in its software, look at Finder in OS X. Sometimes though minimalism is not enough.

With apps like Clear, the developers went a little too far. The app needs a tutorial at the beginning. That's just wrong. Microsoft went too far with Windows 8. Often times its hard to know what is a button and what isn't. Hidden controls are not very obvious. (I'm surprised nobody in the "reviewer" community mentioned this. I suppose most "reviewers" look at design as how it looks. But that's for another day.)

Take a look at this


it works beautifully for Safari (I'm not a fan of the floating buttons), Mail, and even settings. It fails miserably in Game Center, iBooks, and its even worse in Find my Friends.

Well, what's wrong with it?

Some apps loose their 'personality' if you will. Game Center is about casual gaming. That's what most people do on iOS devices. It has to be fun. It has to be colorful. Remember its not about the content of Game Center that you want to focus on. I could live with iBooks like that but again, where is the magic? It has become just another app. Worse is Find My Friends. It is a very delicate concept, it has to look fun, the app has to have a personality that doesn't make it look like work.

What is this personality that I keep talking about?

you see, before there were these touch screen devices, all PC apps (that includes Macs) had this sort of PC app look. All Windows apps looked largely the same, all Mac apps looked largely the same with the grey chrome. On iOS though an app could be anything. It could have red chrome, blue chrome what ever the developer wanted. That is one reason why iPad owners like their iPads so much. The iPad becomes whatever app you are using. If all these apps start to look plain, the iPad sort of looses its magic. It starts to feel like work. That's why iOS apps ported directly to the Mac look a bit weird. Because the Mac is not as intimate as an iOS device. It doesn't become the app you are using.

All apps should have this xfactor if you will. Now if you achieve it through minimalism or skeuomorphic way, I don't care.


What I am bothered with is this new mentality that Skeomprphic design is bad and minimalism is good period. Its not that simple.